PONTIAC, MI — A suburban Detroit school district said no student should be punished for missed online work during the coronavirus pandemic after a news organization reported that a judge placed a teenager in juvenile detention.
ProPublica reported that the 15-year-old girl has been in Oakland County’s Children’s Village since mid-May for violating probation in a case involving allegations of assault and theft. A judge cited a “failure to submit to any schoolwork and getting up for school.”
The girl was a high school sophomore at Groves High School in the Birmingham Public School District when she was charged with assault and theft last year. She was placed on probation in mid-April and, among other requirements, was to complete her schoolwork.
The teen, who has ADHD and receives special education services, struggled with the transition to online learning and fell behind. Finding the girl had violated probation, Oakland County Judge Mary Ellen Brennan on May 14 sentenced her to detention.
From the start of the pandemic, the district “sought to hold students harmless given the challenging, virtual learning environment they were thrust in due to no fault of their own,” spokeswoman Anne Cron said Thursday. “The district maintains that belief today.”
Brennan said the Groves High School student was a threat to the community based on an assault allegation involving her mother, the Associated Press reports.
The judge told the girl in May that she was sending her to Children’s Village to get treatment and services.
Brennan declined to comment on the case but her husband defended her. Ed Lennon, an attorney, said his wife was concerned about the safety of the girl’s mother during a statewide stay-at-home order related to COVID-19.
The “mother may potentially be subject to more assaults by her daughter” if the two had been allowed to continue living together, Lennon said.
A new attorney for the teen, Jonathan Biernat, said he will ask Brennan to release her.
The ProPublica story was also published by the Detroit Free Press and Bridge.